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Published by: parag on Nov 28, 2008
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These indications about the processional phases may be unreliable insofar as their exact
meaning is not unambiguous. To say that a constellation “never swerves from the East” (as
is said of the Pleiades in the ´

Satapatha Br¯ahman.a 2:1:2:3) seems to mean that it contains
the spring equinox, implying that it is on the equator, which intersects the horizon due
East. But this might seem insufficiently explicit for the modern reader who is used to a
precise and separate technical terminology for such matters. But then, the modern reader
will have to accept that technical terminology in Vedic days mostly consisted in fixed
metaphorical uses of common terms. This is not all that primitive, for the same thing will
be found when the etymology of modern technical terms is analyzed, e.g. a telescope is a
Greek “far-seer”, oxygen is “acid-producer”, a cylinder is a “roller”. The only difference is
that we can use the vocabulary of foreign classical languages to borrow from, while Sanskrit
was its own classical reservoir of specialized terminology.


Hermann G. Jacobi: “On the Date of the R. gveda” (1894), reproduced in K. C. Verma et al., eds.:

Rtambhara Studies in Indology, Society for Indic Studies, Ghaziabad 1986, p-91-99.


“We can, therefore, say that about 2000 years have elapsed since the period of K¯alid¯asa”, according

to P. V. Holay : “Vedic astronomy, its origin and evolution”, in Haribhai Pandya et al.: Issues in Vedic

Astronomy and Astrology, Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishthan & Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, p. 109.


The argument for a higher chronology (by about 6 centuries) for the Guptas as well as for the Buddha

has been elaborated by K. D. Sethna in Ancient India in New Light, Aditya Prakashan, Delhi 1989. The

established chronology starts from the uncertain assumption that the Sandrokottos/ Chandragupta whom

Megasthenes met was the Maurya rather than the Gupta king of that name. This hypothetical synchronism

is known as the “sheet-anchor of Indian chronology”. In August 1995, a gathering of 43 historians and

archaeologists from South-Indian universities (at the initiative of Prof. K. M. Rao, Dr. N. Mahalingam and

Dr. S. D. Kulkarni) passed a resolution fixing “the date of the Bharata war at 3139-38 BC” and declaring

this date “to be the true sheet anchor of Indian chronology”.



Another factor of uncertainty is that the equinox moves very slowly (1◦ in nearly 71
years), so that any inexactness in the Vedic indications and any ambiguity in the con-
stellations’ boundaries makes a difference of centuries. This occasional inexactness might
possibly be enough to neutralize the above shift in K¯alid¯asa’s date - but not to account for
a shift of millennia (each millennium corresponding to about 14 degrees of arc) needed to
move the Vedic age from the pre-Harappan to the post-Harappan period, from 4000 BC
as calculated by the astronomers to 1200 BC as surmised by Friedrich Max M¨uller.
On the other hand, it is encouraging to note that the astronomical evidence is entirely
free of contradictions. There would be a real problem if the astronomical indications had
put the Upanishads earlier than the R. g-Veda, or K¯alid¯asa earlier than the Br¯ahm¯an.a, but
that is not the case: the astronomical evidence is consistent. Inconsistency would prove the
predictable objection of AIT defenders that these astronomical references are but poetical
tabulation without any scientific contents. However, the facts are just the opposite. To
the extent that there are astronomical indications in the Vedas, these form a consistent
set of data detailing an absolute chronology for Vedic literature in full agreement with
the known relative chronology of the different texts of this literature. This way, they
completely contradict the hypothesis that the Vedas were composed after an invasion in
about 1500 BC. Not one of the dozens of astronomical data in Vedic literature confirms
the AIT chronology.

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